Utah solar panel sign-ups increase ahead of rate change

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — More than 4,000 Utah residents rushed to sign up for rooftop solar panels in the final days before a new deal with Rocky Mountain Power will reduce the credit for generated electricity pushed back onto the grid.

People who applied for the utility’s net metering program by Tuesday will be billed on the old system that credits at a higher rate through 2035, The Salt Lake Tribune reported .

Under the old billing system, the program reduced power bills by one kilowatt hour for each kilowatt hour the household solar panels generate. So it credited about 10 cents for each kilowatt hour.

Those who sign up for the program after the Tuesday deadline will be on the new system that offers a lower rate of 9.2 cents per kilowatt hour through 2032.

The majority of applications were filed in the last four days before the cutoff. Ryan Evans, president of the Utah Solar Energy Association, said the deadline was not the only motivation for the rush in application filing. He said many people may have just waited to see how the system would change before making the decision.

“A whole bunch of people who have been on the fence have pulled the trigger,” Evans said.

The new system came out of yearlong negotiations by the solar association, the utility and other industry groups. The utility proposed changing the net metering program last fall.

Evans said the lower rate will probably not deter residents from choosing solar.

“We’re definitely going to see a steady rate of applications, just not the same furious pace there has been for the last two months,” Evans said.

The recent applicants are required to install the panels within a year in order to remain in the program.

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